Jimmy McGovern: “North West it is code for Manchester – it’s don’t tell Liverpool”

Screenwriter criticises the BBC for focusing its move out of London on Salford's Media City, and not putting more investment into nearby "great creative hub" Liverpool

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When the BBC moved nearly 600 staff from programming arms including Childrens’, Radio 5 Live and BBC Breakfast to its gleaming new premises at Salford’s Media City, many were impressed with the Corporation’s bold plans.

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But Jimmy McGovern – the writer of hit dramas such as Hillsborough, Cracker, The Street and The Accused – asks why his home city was excluded from the initiative which is projected to eventually cost more than £900m.

“I get a bit pissed off with Media City, the money that’s been spent there,” he revealed in an interview with RadioTimes.com.

“I think a little bit should have come to Liverpool. [Manchester and Liverpool are] two great creative hubs, but it wasn’t to be.”

Asked whether he agreed with the principle of decentralising BBC production away from London he said:  “I would move them [out of London] lock stock and barrel if I had my way! I think it’s a wonderful move. I can’t deny that Media City is a wonderful achievement. It’s a hive of activity, it looks fantastic. I just think we could have got a bit of the action.

“You always know when you hear the word North West it is code for Manchester, it’s don’t tell Liverpool.”

McGovern was speaking at the launch of the sixth series of Moving On, the BBC1 daytime drama series which he created and continues to work on as storyline editor.

The new series will feature five stand-alone films with a variety of famous faces including screen legend Hayley Mills (Whistle Down The Wind) Strictly star Lisa Riley (Fat Friends, Waterloo Road), Kenneth Cranham (In The Flesh, Tess of the D’Urbevilles) and Peter Egan (Ever Decreasing Circles, Downton Abbey). It will air next month.

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Next year McGovern’s new eight-part series Banished, a drama about the first British convicts to settle in Australia, is due to air on BBC2. Set in 1787 it stars Being Human’s Russell Tovey, MyAnna Buring (Ripper Street), Julian Rhind-Tutt (The Hour) and Rory McCann (Game Of Thrones).